A school trip to Lourdes can be a fantastic and highly valuable experience for secondary school students. In addition to its beautiful French setting in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains, Lourdes is also an important religious site that attracts millions of believers and non-believers from every corner of the globe. |
Bernadette Soubirous’s Sightings
The reason for its popularity is that Lourdes is the town in which key Christian figure Bernadette Soubirous grew up and lived an astonishing life. Saint Bernadette was the eldest daughter in a poor family whilst growing up in Victorian-era France. She was pla-gued by illness throughout her childhood, but her life changed forever at just 14 years old when she began to have sightings of the Virgin Mary, now known as Our Lady of Lourdes. Bernadette had a total of 18 visions of the Virgin Mary, who famously pointed her to the source of healing waters in Lourdes and offered her encouragement in her time of need.
Healings & Miracles
The apparition also asked for a shrine at the site of the grotto – this is now one of the most popular pilgrimage sites for Christians. It’s a fascinating place to visit, seeing around 6 million visitors each year. Many miracles are said to have happened here throughout Bernadette’s lifetime which were credited to the spring water. Whilst some have been discredited as hoaxes or short-term recoveries, there are still many that were confirmed; claims even continue today. This makes it an intriguing site that has a special feel around it regardless of your spiritual beliefs.
Bernadette would later join a nunnery in Nevers before passing away of tuberculosis in 1879. Her body was pronounced by the church as officially “incorrupt”. It was exhumed on three separate occasions as part of the canonisation process. “Her body” is now on display at the impressive Chapel of Saint Gidard at the Sisters of Charity in Nevers in a stunning purpose-built crystal coffin.
Follow in Her Footsteps
A school trip to Lourdes allows students to follow in the footsteps of this important Chris-tian figure where they can see key sites and learn more about Catholic practices and religious beliefs. It is a fascinating and slightly macabre story that anyone with an interest in religion, miracles and history will enjoy following. Here are a few unmissable sites on a school trip here:
• The Museum of Saint Bernadette: A highly educational museum where pupils can learn the complete history and see pictures from the time and her own personal belongings. • The Boly Mill: Her birthplace. • The Cachot: Where she was living when she had her visions. • Marian torchlight procession: A wonderful activity that attracts people from around the globe. The Marian torchlight procession takes place at 9pm each night when pilgrims hold candles, sing and pray together.
These are just a few of the main highlights; there are many more, which means that there are lots of things for students to do in the beautiful town of Lourdes on a school trip. In order to make this a highly enjoyable and valuable experience for your class, it is worth seeking out a specialist educational tour operator to ensure that the trip is a complete success from the moment you start planning to your arrival back at school with a coach full of happy students.
John Gardiner is the Managing Director of The School Travel Company, a tour operator specialising in school trip itineraries for school and youth groups to the UK, Europe and beyond. As a father and avid travel-ler, John is very passionate about providing students with valuable and engaging learning experiences outside of the classroom. By sharing his expert advice with teachers, he allows them to inspire their students and bring their studies to life.
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